It was a result that was far from easy to swallow but certainly not one that should have been unexpected. As much as the fans were hoping their Edmonton Oilers could find a way to sneak past the Anaheim Ducks in the seventh game of their second-round series, the clock finally struck midnight on a year all of Oil Country won’t soon forget. After suffering through a decade of pain, the lover affair between this organization and their fans has been rekindled and it is long overdue.
Ten Years of Misery
Ever since their memorable run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, this franchise has had more than its share of bumps along the way to deal with. Unfortunately, many of those hurdles were self-imposed and it has made life rather challenging for the masses over the previous ten years. A seemingly never-ending revolving door in the front office, coupled with a ridiculous amount of movement both behind the bench and on the ice, left the masses questioning how “their team” was being run.
Even with all the missteps over the years, the vast majority of this fan base stuck around but it was far from pretty. Like it or not, all those losing seasons had a negative effect on most casual fans and it was a punch to the gut for the so-called diehards. To their credit, fans kept filling Rexall Place and taking to social media with regularity in support of the Oilers but the level of frustration with the lack of progression had reached an all-time high in recent years.
Oilers had a helluva run!
Tremendous growth, more coming, for a rising power that a passionate fan base deserves!
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) May 11, 2017
While the franchise had the good fortune of being gifted Connor McDavid at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and in turn bought itself a little extra time to “right the ship”, the tension this fan base felt towards the organization was rather apparent. Following what was a disappointing to 2015-16 campaign, this had to be the season in which real progression was made in the overall standings or the revolt would begin. To their credit, that progression started to take place early in 2016-17 but it still took time to convince the masses and who could blame them.
In a season in which Edmonton looked to be all but guaranteed a playoff spot by the time January 1st rolled around, much of this fan base remained on pins and needles until said spot was officially clinched late in the year. And despite their success, Rogers Place was not exactly a building overflowing with energy over the course of the regular season. Yes, it was a tad much to be sure but again, considering the club’s recent track record, it was completely understandable.
Clinching Playoff Spot Changed Everything
The aforementioned tension and uncertainty of what to expect from their team left many uncomfortable and worried about what could be “lurking” around the corner. However, when the Oilers knocked off the Los Angeles Kings on March 28th to punch their ticket back into the post-season, everything changed and was it ever fun to watch unfold. From that moment on, nothing else mattered and the fact so many fans went bananas with Edmonton simply getting back to the dance, spoke volumes.
It had been almost eleven years since the Alberta capital was last treated to an NHL Playoff game and when that was in the bag, the love-in from yesteryear instantly returned. All anyone wanted was for their beloved Oilers to once again be relevant and no longer be the laughing stock of the hockey world. Being one of only nine teams to finish the year with 100+ points in the overall standings did just that and made what would follow a foregone conclusion.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 11, 2017
Over the course of the next month and half, this city once again revolved around its hockey team and it was frankly long overdue. No matter the time of day, there was that “Oilers vibe” wherever you went and it only escalated on Game Day. The gloves were now off, as the people of this city were in all-out party mode. The electricity in Rogers Place was finally ignited and it didn’t stop. Be it if the club was playing at home or on the road, the #OrangeCrush impact could be felt throughout the city…not to mention in the opposing team’s buildings
From the series opener against the San Jose Sharks to final buzzer of their Game Seven loss to the Anaheim Ducks, it was clear the previous decade no longer mattered to those across Oil Country. While the past ten years will never be forgotten, all has been forgiven. The romance in this relationship has returned and it looks as though this will be the start of something special between Edmonton Oilers and the most passionate fan base in all of hockey.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.